The “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign, seems like an ancient outcry lost in a history of hashtag movements that have occupied 21st Century media. 300 girls in the village of Chibok, Nigeria were featured in world headlines when one of the world’s deadliest terror groups, Boko Haram, kidnapped them from a boarding school on April 14, 2014. According to the Washington Post, the unsuccessful search for these girls, to this day has become a symbolic failure of both the Nigerian government and its western-backed allies
In the fourteen years of its existence, Boko Haram has routinely targeted schools, teachers, and students in its war against western style education. By early 2016, over 959,029 children of school going age had been displaced from schools in the North Eastern part of Nigeria. Did the fate of these 300 girls, cast light on the extensive acts of terrorism perpetrated by this terrorist group? The influence of western media on this issue certainly played a role in concerted efforts by western countries to send troops to aid the Nigerian military. However, the slow progress of these efforts led to the waning attention of the media and by extension, the rest of the world. Far more disconcerting, is the little attention that has been given the thousands of children displaced from schools.
According to a publication by NORRAG, titled Refugees, Displaced Persons and Education, the crisis created by Boko Haram in the Chad basin region, is comparable to that of the Syrian conflict. However, this humanitarian crisis has seen a shortfall of international funding compared to the Syrian crisis, where refugees have fled to neighboring countries in the region and to Europe. Over the years, the fight against the terror group has been plagued with failures by the Nigerian government. The looting of money intended to fight terrorism, the occupation of schools and the violation of human rights by the military greatly affected the plight of children.
Nonetheless, small battles for education have been won by groups like the Education Must Continue Initiative (EMCI). Such community-based organizations have developed as a result of insufficient focus on education reform by the government. Other initiatives like the Nigerian Education Crisis Response Program, have set up informal learning centers in the North region of the country. These education initiatives have the huge challenge of providing safe learning environments and helping children cope with trauma.
There are still many children like the Chibok girls whose right to education has been robbed from them. Although a more globalized media opened Chibok to the world, it is often the interests of imperialist nations that have defined the narrative on the global media platform. For now, the focus of the international community has been on Syria and Iraq. While the United Nation agencies strive to raise funds to aid the people of North Eastern Nigeria, the country’s leadership should strengthen its governance structures in order to address the plight of a generation of children that might risk losing its chance at education.
Washington Post: What Happened After Interest Faded in the #BringBackOurGirls Campaign. May, 2016. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/05/18/what-happened-after-interest-faded-in-the-bringbackourgirls-campaign/
NORRAG news: Refugees, Displaced Persons and Education: New Challenges for Development and Policy. May, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.norrag.org/cn/publications/norrag-news/online-version/refugees-displaced-persons-and-education-new-challenges-for-development-and-policy/detail/idps-and-education-in-north-east-nigeria-after-boko-haram.html
International Business Times: Nigeria’s Education Crisis: Boko Haram Targeting Schools, Teachers, Students Is Devastating Africa’s Largest Economy. December, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.com/nigerias-education-crisis-boko-haram-targeting-schools-teachers-students-devastating-2177842
Human Rights Watch: They set the classrooms on fire: Attacks on Education in Northeast Nigeria. April, 2016. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/04/11/they-set-classrooms-fire/attacks-education-northeast-nigeria